Rockford City Council takes first step in redeveloping former Rockford Products facility

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — In 2016 after more than 80 years in business, Rockford Products shut down operations for good. Since then, the building has sat empty.

Monday night, Rockford City Council members took the first steps in what could be a new future for the former manufacturing facility. Developers and the surrounding community look forward to progress.

“They are looking at a significant investment in a property that’s been vacant for four years, and certainly has elements of blight and potentially environmental remediation needs to become a viable property,” explained Karl Franzen, the director of community and economic development for the City of Rockford.

The council approved a consulting contract to help look into the possibility of using the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District money to aide in the redevelopment of the Rockford Products site.

“If you create a TIF on speculation, and no projects exist, as years go by, that TIF becomes less and less powerful. So we really want to make sure that we vet out that this is an appropriate project for the TIF, and that’s part of this consulting process,” Franzen added.

Franzen tells us that developer First Midwest Group wants to redevelop the site for industrial use.

“First Midwest Group is looking at investing millions of dollars into essentially dividing the building, taking out some of the worst sections of it, and creating two viable buildings for tenant uses as well as doing significant site work,” Franzen said.

Joseph Frisella is the general manager of John’s Italian Restaurant, which sits on 11th Street near the old facility. He is excited about the possibility of new development in the area.

“Whenever any kind of new business, whatever kind of business it is, comes into the community, or anything to take out some of the blight in the area, try to clean it up, and trying to redevelop, that’s good for everyone. It’s good for the community, it’s good for our business, and we appreciate it,” Frisella said.

Frisella said an influx of workers could mean new business.

“Our lunch business, we’re open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and usually it’s packed with people coming from the factories or having meetings,” he added.

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